I appreciate people who have mastered the art of “Facework.” These are your friends, colleagues or family members who are interested in keeping others’ humiliation and embarrassment to a minimum. If an innocent blunder could result in someone being embarrassed or self-conscious, this person is quick with a statement to diffuse any awkwardness.
I know such a person. He has a natural tendency to help others save face. If someone struggles with technology, he is the first to say that he is challenged as well. If someone loses his train of thought and stumbles with words, he responds with, “I know exactly what you mean!” In these instances, he is telling the truth! He is highly empathetic and willing to partner with others in mutual understanding. Being around this type of person is relaxing. No “be-on-guard-for-the-judgment” is needed.
Can Facework be used inappropriately? Absolutely! It is not OK to mend the humiliation of someone who needs to be accountable for significant misdeeds. It is not OK to make someone always feel good as my conflict avoidance pattern in the relationship.
However, in today’s time of caustic political rhetoric, I pause to appreciate those of you who are skilled in appropriate Facework behaviors.
I hope this is not a dying art.